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Fat Guy

THE BEST: NYC Butcher

98 posts in this topic

I have done my share of sampling from various NY and national beef/meat purveyors. From Lobel's (my heretofore fav), to Jefferson Market (excellent), Ottomanelli's (excellent/very good) and nationally to Bryan Flannery in Northern California (excellent).

But I really reached new heights--might have even nudged out Lobel's--when I went to Florence Meat Market. How could I have missed this place? Its a lot closer to me (I live downtown) than Lobel's. On Saturday, after shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket, I trudged over to Florence Meat Market and bought two, 2" rib steaks, each to serve 2-3 people. The butcher brought out a huge rib of beef, took out a large hand saw, and proceeded to saw. Worked and worked, as the house cat explored what was in my packages from the greenmarket. I ended up with two of the finest, center cut prime rib steaks I've ever seen. Plus, the trimmings (beef cubes and short ribs) that were left over were also given to me, which I later ground at home and used to make hamburgers. Amazing. I roasted the steaks in my convection broiler. One taste and that was it. Steak that melted in your mouth. "This is the best steak I've ever tasted" said one guest.

This has made me a believer in Florence. Yes, I love Lobel's. But for now, Florence is my 'go to' local meat market. Outstanding.

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I want to add a plug for Jeffrey's on Essex, at the Essex St. Market. I heard about them, and even though I've been more than happy with Florence and Ottomanelli and Sons, I went to check them out.

Jeffrey himself greeted me, and when he heard the kinds of question I had, he tossed me an apron and invited me back to check out the meat aging in the walk-in. He has a huge assortment of meats, including black plume and black foot chickens, Berkshire pork, lamb from Colorado, Australia, and New Zealand, prime dry aged beef (aged in house and to order from an aging facility) and lots of offal and exotic meats.

He made it clear that he was MY butcher and would get or do whatever I asked. I saw some 8-week dry aged strip steak in the case, and commented that I'd never had meat that was aged that long. He said, "well let's have some."

He cut a steak, let me season it, and walked it over to the George Foreman grill at the fish monger's stand next door. we took it back and at it together. What kind of butcher does this??

I asked him if he'd accept free labor in exchange for some butchering education. He just said, "grab a knife!" So I've now spent two days following him around and cutting meat.

The cool thing is that he'll really do whatever you want. Right now he has a small rack of rib steaks being custom aged for a customer. He doesn't charge for this (but you'll pay for all meat that has to be trimmed off, which will increase with aging time). I love the idea that if I plan a steak dinner for friends, I could conceivable have him age the meat for ten weeks, and my final price would still be no more than what I'm used to paying.

So far he doesn't do "artisinal meats." Meaning, he doesn't deal directly with farms and get seasonal grass fed, organic this and that. He doesn't have a big enough market for it yet, but that could change if he gets enough requests.

So, if you have some high end requests, give him a call or stop by. He really wants to be your butcher, and if he sees the market getting big enough, he'll be able to get in the kinds of products that could give lobel's a run for their money.

He says he selects all the meat personally. The wholesalers don't pick it for him; he goes down and gets the best looking selections he can find.

He doesn't focus on selling wholesale, but prides himself on helping restaurants in emergencies. His wholesale card says, in big letters, "Who Fucked Up The Order".

A great guy selling great meat. And they've been in business as a family for four generations, since the late 1800s.

212-457-6521

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That's a classic story, Paul. Jeffrey has been "my" butcher for the last five years, since we moved south of Delancey in '03. And I've been pushing him for that long.

Those chickens you mention are from Bo Bo Poultry, which used to have an outlet on a rapidly gentrifying stretch of Broome St. and had to close. Their birds are from farms in the Hudson River valley - I hope Jeffrey is able to keep offering them, but his market isn't exactly the Chinese community, which knows how to use all those strange chickens.

And I too, have been basically told to cut my own steak - when I wanted a nice thick rib eye and was handed a knife.

His American lamb is great - he usually has whole Colorado shoulders, which make for great lamb stew.

Check out this brisket I bought just this past Wednesday...for $2.99 a pound. Mmmmm, love that fat cap.

gallery_6902_6266_16315.jpg


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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"If you find a good butcher, give him a kiss. They are a dieing breed." - Fergus Henderson

Or words to that effect, spoken at an IACP conference a few years ago and truer words were never spoken.

Jeffrey is fantastic! Perhaps crazy as loon, but in a very good way.

I was feeling sort of depressed thinking about coming back to NY and having to shop there. Sorry NY'ers, but I'm a little spoiled with lots of cheap rabbit, guinea fowl, great pork, lamb......

Then I remembered Jeffrey, and I felt a whole lot better.

His meat is excellent, his prices are fair, and he's always entertaining.

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The Bo Bo chickens are fantastic! I made soup with a black plume and a white plume (great flavor) and then had my mind blown yesterday when I roasted a black plume. Incredible. To anyone who tells me they don't like white meat, I'll say "get a real chicken. And don't overcook it."

The dark meat was very good ... prominent, fresh, chickeny flavor. But the breast meat was actually sweet. It reminded me of heritage pork, where you can actually taste the fruits and nuts that where fed to the pig. I have no idea what these birds eat or if this has anything to do with it, but this was a delicious experience.

The breasts are small, sadly, since the birds have not been bred to hulk up like Schwartzenegger. So you might want to buy an extra bird.

One nice thing is that they come with the heads and feet on them. You can check the freshness by looking at the eyes, just like with fish. The three birds I got were exquisitely fresh ... probably slaughtered early that morning. The heads and feet are a great addition to sauces and stocks, though I don't have the stomach yet to chow on them.

In other Jeffrey's news, I got some 42 day dry aged NY strip steaks, which I refuse to shut up about in this thread.

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I've been a loyal Ottomanelli customer for a while - but I recently tried Jeffrey because of this thread... let me say that I'm definitely going to be a repeat customer there! The quality of their products is great, and everybody who works there is a real piece of work! Jeffrey himself seems like a great guy - after seeing my interest, he gave my wife and me a complete tour of the place.... and since it was our first time there, he gave us a "gift" of a 1# dry-aged prime NY strip steak, trimmed... the marbling on that beauty is just crazy... as someone said upthread - he REALLY wants to be your butcher!

BTW - my first exploratory visit was to get only 2# of pork shoulder - which is like $2/lb... and when the bill came out to $3.77, the guy said "just give me $3".... just crazy!!!

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On another note - I just got an email about Dicksons's Farmstand Meats... they source all kinds of meats directly from the farmers, and are only locally sourced... from my quick look online, they have beef, lamb, heritage pork, and suckling pig... supposedly all beef is dry aged as half carcasses for 14-21 days...

I haven't tried them yet, but thought I'd pass on the info... his website is:

dicksonsfarmstand.com

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I've cooked meat from both Otomanelli and now Florence. I think they are both great butcher shops, and in fact it's where I go for my meat. But having said that they don't compare to Lobell's on either quality or price - both of which are a lot higher at Lobell's.

The one thing that irks me about Florence is that they really claim the meat you are buying is prime, when I don't see how it could be. Dry Aged Prime Shell Steak just doesn't go for $17/lb, and the marbling isn't at the prime level (it's very high quality marbling for choice however). At Otomanelli my guy at least semi-admitted it wasn't, saying they just try to get the best meat they can for the by the pound prices they offer, saying sometimes it's choice, other times it's prime. That to me is sound reasoning, and I appreciated it far more than being told the meat I was buying for $17/lb without sensational marbling was prime beef.

It's a minor quibble, doesn't keep me from shopping there, cause it's still nice to measure your steak off a primal and have them cut it like they do at Florence. And you are getting good value for what you're paying, which matters far more than what the label says. But if marbling is your thing and price is no object, these two don't hang with Lobell's IMO.

I'll have to give Jeffrey a shot next time I saunter over to Shopsin's for a meal.

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I made the 1# "gift" NY strip steak the other night.... now, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I still say that it was a very generous gift (especially when my primary purchase was only $3), but I wasn't very impressed by the quality of the meat... It had good flavor and it was pretty tender - but it didn't knock me over like I thought it would... I had a dry-aged NY strip steak (well, it was a roast, but semantics...) from Fairway that was much better... significantly juicier and more succulent... and while anything is possible, I don't think it's what I did to it- I cooked the steak sous-vide to 125F (with only a few drops of juices in the bag after cooking) and a quick sear on all sides on an extremely hot cast iron pan... The sear couldn't have been more than 2mm thick, and perfectly rare inside...

Having said that - I will definitely go back to Jeffrey - but if I'm looking for really prime stuff, I think I would inspect the marbling first....

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Note that Oppenheimer - much spoken of up-thread - is now closed.

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Note that Oppenheimer - much spoken of up-thread - is now closed.

Yeah. I was surprised to see that. My family patronized them since I was a little boy, if not before. Do you know what happened? Just too much of a rent hike?

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Sorry, no idea what happened with Oppenheimer. We don't live in that neighborhood but happened to be walking up there a weekend or two ago and saw the place shuttered.

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Michael guessed it: Ridiculous rent hike. This is something that I have been seeing quite a bit on the 90th-to-110th Street stretch of Broadway. Businesses of long standing forced to vacate by greedy landlords, or buildings knocked down and replaced with new construction, which storefronts stand vacant for months or years due to a lack of tenants willing to pay the landlord's rate. I note that the old Oppenheimer space has been vacant for some six months...


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Preet Baba made the statement on the "Omaha Steaks" thread in "General" that Lobel's is in a class by itself when it comes to butchers. He was specifically referring to steaks.<p>Anybody got a potential challenger to Lobel's in the steak arena? What about for other butchering needs? What's your favorite?

Had my first Lobel's over Christmas, a 10lb standing rib roast (USDA Prime). Hands down the best. If only I can afford to keep shopping there.


"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Another reason why many like Jeffrey's Meat Market in the Essex St. Market is his compassion for his customers.

Due to the hardships facing many of his customers, Jeffrey has decided to go a bit further than perhaps Lobel, Oppenheimer or Ottomanelli have ever dreamed of.

Ruhalter persuaded other food providers to join him in donating gourmet eats to give 115 struggling couples a near-free, sumptuous meal.

Called Jeffrey's Recession Dinner, the meals - complete with a New York strip steak, grilled vegetables, gourmet cheese and decadent cupcakes - will be served to about half the couples at the Essex restaurant on March 31 and at Thor Restaurant on April 1 to the other half.

The full story, from the NY Daily News, may be read by clicking here.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Another reason why many like Jeffrey's Meat Market in the Essex St. Market is his compassion for his customers.

Due to the hardships facing many of his customers, Jeffrey has decided to go a bit further than perhaps Lobel, Oppenheimer or Ottomanelli have ever dreamed of.

Ruhalter persuaded other food providers to join him in donating gourmet eats to give 115 struggling couples a near-free, sumptuous meal.

Called Jeffrey's Recession Dinner, the meals - complete with a New York strip steak, grilled vegetables, gourmet cheese and decadent cupcakes - will be served to about half the couples at the Essex restaurant on March 31 and at Thor Restaurant on April 1 to the other half.

The full story, from the NY Daily News, may be read by clicking here.

wow that's pretty over the top, good for him. one more reason I am so glad to live in the LES.


Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.

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Well, Jeffrey does it again. Today, a really nice piece in the NY Times about Jeffrey, the philosophising butcher.

Epistemology had Socrates, and religion had Aquinas, but the great philosopher of the meat purveying business may be Mr. Ruhalter, an advocate for decency in eating and a fourth-generation butcher who construes his occupation in almost Platonic terms.

Full article here.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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On the way home from the Union Square Greenmarket I visited Japan Premium Beef, the new washugyu beef source on 57 Great Jones St. about two or three blocks east of Broadway today. The NYT had a short writeup on the shop and what they sell--

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/dining/10Jbeef.html

--which is wet aged wagyu/Angus beef from a ranch in Oregon, sold from a pristine white modern storefront by butchers who present themselves more like waiters in an upscale restaurant or maybe retail jewelers than butchers. They don't have to do much butchering, since they are working mainly with sub-primals that have been prepared and cryovac packed for them, so unusual cuts may not be available.

I got an 18 ounce New York strip steak, or a shell steak as New Yorkers call it, for my wife and myself--

gallery_64820_6661_251848.jpg

Every order comes with a small wrapped cube of fat for melting in a pan or for oiling the grill. The steak I got wasn't as extraordinarily marbled as some wagyu I've seen, but the beef is well marbled and incredibly soft--

gallery_64820_6661_171765.jpg

I only needed a bit of fat to oil the cast iron grill pan, which I took from the steak itself, so I rendered the extra fat cube in another cast iron pan and used it to coat some "La Ratte" fingerling potatoes and nugget carrots from Paffenroth Farms for roasting in a 425F oven for about 40 minutes--

gallery_64820_6661_4295.jpg

I didn't even use salt on the roasted vegetables, and they were very tasty.

I cooked the steak with some sea salt and black pepper to about 110F internal temperature, a bit rarer than I normally would, about 4-5 minutes on a side, and let it rest for ten minutes before slicing and served it with a little garlic confit and chopped parsley--

gallery_64820_6661_102426.jpg

I also made a small salad with local tomatoes and Boston lettuce, and from the Greenmarket I picked up a bottle of the 2007 Martini-Reinhart Selection Cabernet Franc from Anthony Road Wines in Penn Yan, New York, which is one of the better Finger Lakes wines I've sampled.

Going extra rare was a good move with this beef. It had an earthy flavor, more like grass-fed beef, but not lean and chewy as grass-fed beef can often be. I tried the standard USDA Prime porterhouse from Lobel's about a year ago, which is about the same price, similarly soft, a bit more marbled, and I preferred the flavor of the washugyu.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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Going extra rare was a good move with this beef.  It had an earthy flavor, more like grass-fed beef, but not lean and chewy as grass-fed beef can often be.  I tried the standard USDA Prime porterhouse from Lobel's about a year ago, which is about the same price, similarly soft, a bit more marbled, and I preferred the flavor of the washugyu.

Have you ever tried a "regular" aged steak from Jeffrey at about 1/2 of the price?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Have you ever tried a "regular" aged steak from Jeffrey at about 1/2 of the price?

Not yet, but I've been meaning to. The reason I tried Lobel's actually was that my father had ordered a gift certificate for my birthday. Lobel's isn't in a neighborhood that I pass through often, so it sat on my desk for about a year before I finally made it over there. Jeffrey's is an easy subway ride from where I live now in Queens, but I'm usually rushing to transfer between the M and the F trains at Essex & Delancey.

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Jeffrey's regular aged beef in completely off the hook. If he had the reputation and could handle the volume I think he'd steal all of Lobels' customers.

For grass fed beef, he's going to be the only distributor in the region for Hearst Ranch, in Southern California.

Here's something to consider with grass fed beef from northern climes: much of the year there is no green grass. In some cases the cattle get fed grass silage in the off season, but mostly they get hay. Hay gives neither the marbling of grain nor the flavor of grass ... in a sense it's the worst of both worlds. This is why there's so much expensive but mediocre beef in places like the farmers' markets in NYC.

I've had a sample of the Hearst beef. It's excellent. Being a marbling guy, I was skeptical, but both the texture and flavor were nice. An interesting alternative to the grain finished meat.

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Note that Oppenheimer - much spoken of up-thread - is now closed.

Their website is still up. Are you sure ?


edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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Note that Oppenheimer - much spoken of up-thread - is now closed.

Their website is still up. Are you sure ?

I emailed the address given on the website, here is a copy:

Subject: Inquiery

Date: August 27, 2009 8:50:49 AM HST

To: bob@oppenheimermeats.com

Hello, are you folks re=opened now ?

thanks,

steve

The reply I received is:

"We are looking for space now."


edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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